Nashville Jefferson

Friday, November 19, 2010

All Charters, All the Time

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 8:34 AM

Though, really, children arent freight...
Those possessing a pulse and working sensory organs can't help but be inundated these days with news of charter schools, "school choice," and the chorus of voices proclaiming the coming of the education Messiah (i.e., charter schools). As I noted on my own blog the other day, charters have been near universally embraced. They're the zeitgeist, the must-have accessory for any education reformer these days.

Of course, charter schools aren't that new, and haven't been the panacea that everyone claims we don't expect them to be.

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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Politics and Education, Primary Day Edition: 5th Congressional District

Posted By on Thu, Aug 5, 2010 at 11:30 AM

...otherwise someone ELSE will decide which brand of educational extremism gets main stage for the November election.
  • ...otherwise someone ELSE will decide which brand of educational extremism gets main stage for the November election.
What a smorgasbord (a veritable cornucopia!) of candidates we have here in the 5th, all running for the privilege of losing to Jim Cooper! On the ballot we have:

* David Hall
* Jeff Hartline
* Cece Heil
* Vijay Kumar
* Patrick Miranda
* Bob Ries
* Bob Schwartz
* Jarod Scott
* Lonnie Spivak
* Alvin Strauss
* Tracy Tarum

Yikes — I'm tired already. Who'd want to miss the opportunity, though, to take a magical mystery tour through the labyrinthine depths of these candidates' unique views on education? Come, friends: I think and judge it for thy best / Thou follow me, and I will be thy guide, / And lead thee hence through the eternal place, / Where thou shalt hear the desperate lamentations, / Shalt see the ancient spirits disconsolate, / Who cry out each one for the second death.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Henry v. Yarbro on Education

Posted By on Wed, Aug 4, 2010 at 11:38 AM

Its The Final Countdown!
As the sun rises on the primary tomorrow, the race for Republican gubernatorial nominee is not the only contentious one. Right here in Nashville, in District 21 to be more specific, we have a Democratic primary battle between longtime incumbent Sen. Douglas Henry and upstart attorney Jeff Yarbro. Perhaps you've heard a little bit about this race?

Jeff has chosen education as his go-to issue, and Sen. Henry's camp has responded in kind. As education is certainly one of my top issues (as I'm sure it is to many Pith readers out there), I thought it would be worth taking a look at the candidates' positions and experience in educational matters in advance of actual voting (I'm in District 21 and have already cast my vote — don't ask!).

So, where do both candidates fall? Let's go to the videotape!

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Are You Now, Or Have You Ever Been A Member of The SCEA?

Posted By on Wed, May 19, 2010 at 6:22 AM

Im Lookin At You, Mrs. Robinson

A few weeks back, Jennifer Easton (of the News Examiner) wrote a story about the Sumner County School Board's proposal to require teachers to disclose their union membership. The proposal has stimulated quite the outcry from the Sumner County Education Association, who has, according to Easton's article, promised a lawsuit if it moves forward. However, before getting into the legality of such a proposal (were it to pass), you need some background.

The short version: Tennessee is kind of schizophrenic when it comes to unions.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Grade Inflation in MNPS?

Posted By on Tue, Apr 20, 2010 at 9:15 AM

Recently, Pith obtained an email sent by Dr. Barbara Ide, principal of Thurgood Marshall Middle School, to her staff regarding grades. In pertinent part, it read (emphasis in original):

Hello, Friends,

As I prepare for the final push towards who might need to repeat… I want to make sure that you are averaging grades correctly.

At the end of the grading period, nothing less than a 50 is to be averaged. If students had zeroes, or other grades less than 50%, those grades are to be averaged as 50’s.

Look this over. I’ll be checking grade books again before we run report cards next week.


At the time of this post, Dr. Ide has not offered comment. As near as I can tell, this policy calls for pretty blatant grade inflation. Students who might otherwise have zeroes bringing down their GPA (or any other low grades below 50) get the benefit of having those scores raised.

The question is whether this is a district policy, an unofficial way of doing business, or an isolated incident.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

As The Wheels Keep Turning

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 4:50 PM

If anyone was bored enough to watch the House Education Committee this morning, this is what you saw: A bunch of House members, from both sides, taking up a vast, almost geological amount of time debating a nothing bill that was going to pass anyway. In question was a bill, HB3014, to take away the licenses of certain professionals, including teachers, if they fail to pay back their student loans.

Though it maybe isn't the best bill in the world, it's really not that objectionable. It doesn't call for teachers to carry guns to school or refrain from saying magic, evil words to our kids. And yet the Education Committee, with 44 bills on its agenda, spent the whole session discussing it, before breaking for lunch and promising to "come back later" to finish up the rest of the agenda.

As if that will happen.

With apologies to Tony Banks (he of Genesis fame), this is just another example of our legislators wasting time and keeping the wheels turning. There are numerous pressing issues facing Tennesseans these days, many of them having to do with education. With a limited number of legislative days available, it's inexcusable that so much time would be spent on such an inconsequential bill. The wheels on the bus may be going 'round and 'round, but the bus ain't moving, as far as I can tell.

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Facebook, MySpace, and Student Discipline

Posted By on Wed, Apr 14, 2010 at 8:30 AM

Remember a few weeks back: An MNPS student, Taylor Cummings, was expelled from MLK Magnet High School for an angry post he wrote on his Facebook wall. The local news covered the story (as did Pith), and the story even went briefly national (I offered my take here).

Now comes news out of the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals that may signal a sea change in the way off-campus behavior relates to school discipline.

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Thursday, April 8, 2010

This Isn't the Charter You're Looking For

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 11:31 AM

The story's been building since yesterday morning that Nashville's LEAD Academy is presumably in the LEAD (OK, I'm done) in the bidding to take over Cameron Middle School and re-open it as a charter. The transition won't be immediate, but will happen grade-by-grade over three years. From Chris Echegaray at The Tennessean:

A charter school already operating in North Nashville is the front-runner to take over Cameron Middle, where students have struggled for years to meet state testing benchmarks.

The Metro school board will vote Tuesday on whether Cameron becomes Tennessee's first public school taken over at a school district's request. A school district committee charged with reviewing the three applicants is recommending LEAD Academy in Nashville over Memphis Academy of Science and Engineering and the William E. Doar Public Charter School for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

LEAD's high expectations, attention to detail and "whatever it takes" attitude set it apart, the committee wrote in its report to the board.

I completely respect what the folks over at LEAD are doing, and I think they've got an excellent plan for running a premier charter school. After all, the Gates Foundation certainly thought they were good enough. Why, then, am I a wee bit dissatisfied?

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